SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias signed an Executive Order Thursday to expand parental leave for Secretary of State employees.

The leave, which went from four weeks to twelve weeks, will take place immediately according to Assistant Press Secretary Leen Yassine.

“No working parent should have to choose between paying their bills and the time necessary to bond with their new child and family,” said Giannoulias, the father of three young daughters. “Allowing just four weeks of time off following the birth of a child is not only woefully insufficient but criminal.”

Yassine also said the new policy, which applies to employees growing their families by birth or adoption, will allow employees to have more flexibility to use their time off intermittently in five-day increments for one year after a child becomes a part of the family.

“By signing this order, we’re making a positive impact for working Illinoisans across our state that will result in healthier and more financially stable families,” he added. “It will also create a more effective workplace and position the office to become more competitive when attracting and retaining a talented workforce.”

The new policy will affect approximately 4,100 Secretary of State employees throughout the state. They will be able to take up to twelve weeks of paid parental level whether they are the birthing or non-birthing parent. Non-birthing parents were previously only given two weeks of paid time off according to Yassine.